Tuesday July 19, 2011

By Phil Smith                                                                                             

The Whelen Modified Tour headed to the New Hampshire Motor Speedway this past Saturday, July 16 for the F.W. Webb 100. It appears that the winds of change are beginning to blow as only thirty four cars were on hand for practice and qualifying. Sprint Cup ringer Ryan Newman, who clearly has a distinct advantage because of his Sprint Cup team, was the top qualifier as he was over one mile per hour faster than Ron Silk who was second fastest. Todd Szegedy was third fastest with Bobby Santos and another Cup ringer, Andy Petree, rounding out the top five. Sixth through tenth were Doug Coby, Rowan Pennink, Ryan Preece, Matt Hirschman and Ted Christopher. Justin Bonsignore experienced engine trouble and did not take time. He was given the last starting spot in the 34 starting spot field.

Ryan Newman capitalized on a relatively caution-free race to sail to his fourth straight NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour race Saturday in the F.W. Webb 100 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. With the power and technology behind that car he all but stunk up the show as he could out power and pass the competition at will. Newman, who will also won the Coors Light Pole Award for Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at the 1.058-mile oval, led a race-high 61 laps. He passed Ron Silk on Lap 84 and won by 1.901 seconds over runner-up Todd Szegedy.
The race was slowed by just two cautions and featured an 88-lap green-flag run to the checkered flag. Newman led the first 33 laps and drifted back to third under the long run before moving back to the front in the closing stages. Szegedy edged Ron Silk at the finish line for second. Matt Hirschman and Doug Coby rounded out the top five. Points leader Rowan Pennink was sixth, followed by Eric Goodale, Ron Yuhas Jr., Ed Flemke Jr. and Woody Pitkat. Ted Christopher was the last car on the lead lap as he finished 11th. The race featured four lead changes among three drivers. Newman led 61 of the 100 laps.

NASCAR impounded the #7NY car and will be bringing the car down to Concord, NC to NASCAR facilities for testing. NASCAR will announce their official decision this coming Wednesday. It has been strongly hinted that Newmans car is illegal or has illegal parts and there could very well be a disqualification coming in the near future. In the words of NASCAR Media Coordinator Jason Cunningham, "We don't take away wins anymore, if there is a penalty to be assessed it would not affect the finish of the race".

According to those on hand the race was taped, but who knows when it will be shown!

The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour will race next in the Lighthouse Mission 200 at Riverhead (N.Y.) Raceway on Saturday, July 30. Just finalized but not yet announced is a $600 “Mike Ewanitsko Hard Charger Award” to be handed to a WMT driver who does what Ewanitsko did so often in his racing career. The award will be voted on by a group of race fans, headed by Jim Schaefer, who has raised a significant amount of money for this July 30 WMT event. It may not go to the driver who gains the most positions, but rather to the driver who shows Ewanitsko-like abilities with outside passes from the back of the field, even if he does not finish the race. Ewanitsko was forced out of racing by a serious diabetes condition, which makes it unsafe for him to compete regularly.

In Thursday Night Thunder action at the Thompson Speedway Woody Pitkat earned his second Sunoco Modified victory this season as he was awarded the win in the special 50-lap feature event. Pitkat took the lead from Danny Cates on lap 28 and appeared to be on his way to victory until the final lap of the race. Contact with Keith Rocco had Pitkat cross the line second, but a penalty issued to Rocco for the contact handed him the win. Rocco drove deep into turn three of the final lap and made contact with Pitkat, who saved his car but lost the lead. Track officials issued a penalty to Rocco, who took the checkers first, and put Pitkat into victory lane. Rocco was awarded fifth place. Rick Fuller was moved up to the runner-up spot. Andrew Charron and Joe Allegro followed.

In other Thursday night Thunder action Tyler Poulin was the Mini Stock winner, halting Danny Field's win streak. Tom O'Sullivan was the Late Model winner, Derek Ramstron won the non-stop Super Latemodel feature, Shawn Monahan won the Limited Sportsman Feature and Cam McDermott won the Thompson Modified feature.

The Stafford Motor Speedway avoided a couple of pop-up showers as Keith Keith Rocco picked up his fifth victory of the 2011 season in the 40-lap SK Modified® feature event, Ryan Posocco took his first feature win of the 2011 season in the 30-lap Late Model feature, Matt Galko recovered from an early race incident to take his third feature win of the 2011 season in the 20-lap SK Light Modified feature, Shawn Thibeault picked up his third win of 2011 in the 20-lap Limited Late Model feature, and Kyle Casagrande picked up his fourth feature victory of the season in the 15-lap DARE Stock feature. Casagrande's feature victory tied him with Stacey Botticello and Norm Sears as the winningest drivers in DARE Stock history with 10 career feature wins each.

Ted Christopher made a move to the inside of early leader Glen Reen in turn 3 on lap-23 to take over the race lead. Rocco caught Reen and he moved into second on lap-27 while Christopher continued to hold the lead. With 10 laps to go Christopher had a lead of several car lengths over Rocco, who had an advantage of several car lengths over Reen in third. Rocco closed the distance to Christopher and he made a power move to the inside of Christopher in turn 3 on lap-36 to move into the race lead. Christopher bobbled slightly in turn 1 on lap-38, which allowed Rocco to stretch his lead out by a couple of car lengths. Christopher caught back up to Rocco on the final lap, but Rocco was too strong to be overtaken and he took his fifth win of the 2011 season by a car length. Rounding out the top-5 behind Rocco and Christopher was Reen, Dan Avery, and Woody Pitkat.

At the Waterford Speedbowl, Keith Rocco made it three in a row in SK Modified competition. Bruce Thomas Jr. won his fourth feature in the Bob Valenti Auto Mall Late Model s, Ed Puleo rallied late in the Street Stock s to win his fifth race of the year, but in the Mini Stocks it was the first of the year for Nick Pappacoda who wound up taking the checkered flag. Paul French was victorious in the SK Light Modifieds, his second in three events for the division. Patrick Williams won the X-Car feature.

Following Rocco in the SK Modified feature was Jeff Pearl, Kyle James, Joe Perry and Frank Mucciacciaro.

The Valenti Modified Racing Series was in action at the Cannan Speedway in New Hampshire. Louie Mechalides was the only purple and yellow car in the field. He drew the pole, led all the laps and won the race. It was ironic that the late Ricky Miller, for whom the race was named, drove a purple and yellow car. Mike Stefanik finished second and was followed by Norm Wrenn, Kirk Alexander and Chris Pasteryak. There were thirty cars on hand.

The Bowman-Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem, NC hosted twin 25 lap Modified features. Tim Brown won the pole position for the first race with a qualifying lap of 13.298 seconds (67.7 mph) on the quarter-mile track. He held off Burt Myers in a side-by-side battle in the first lap, and again survived pressure from runner-up Myers in the closing laps. Jonathan Brown finished third. In the second Modified race, Jason Myers, went pole to pole to record his first victory of the season. Chris Fleming finished second, after slipping past a sliding Brad Robbins in the eighth lap. Robbins finished third after picking up two spots by bumping and squeezing past Austin Pack and Steven Truell in the opening laps. Burt Myers was eighth in the second race and Tim Brown ninth, maintaining Myers' 28-point lead margin in the standings.

At the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island, Don Howe came out of retirement to win the Modified feature. Howe hadn't won in 15 years.

Modified driver Chris Young has bought the Bronson Speedway in Florida, which held their first event in late-June. Young is exploring the possibility of hosting a Tour-Type Modified event at the track during Speedweeks next February.

The 61st running of the Sunoco Race of Champions Modified 200 will be held at the Oswego Speedway in Oswego, NY and will honor the memory of Modified great Richie Evans. Evans a three time winner of the Race of Champions in 1973, 79 and 80 was also recently nominated in to the NASCAR Racing Hall of Fame. Tara and Richie, Jr. will be Grand Marshals at the race. This Saturday marks the 61st running of the 200 and also would have been Richie Evans 70th birthday.

In some sad news Kenneth J. Gouvin, 83, passed away after a lengthy illness on Thursday, July 7, 2011. During his younger years Kenny raced at the Kingston Fairgrounds in Kingston, RI.

In TV land NASCAR Race Hub will air on the Speed Channel at 7:00pm on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. NASCAR Now on espn2 airs at 5:00pm on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Also on Friday at 6:30pm and on Saturday at 3:30pm. Race viewing begins on the Speed Channel on Wednesday at noon with last Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Lenox Industrial Tools 301that was run at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway. On Thursday at noon Speed will replay last Saturday's NASCAR Nationwide Series New England 200 that was run at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway. At 3:00pm Speed replays the 2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup Allstate 400 at the Brickyard that was run at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The June 25th NASCAR K&N Pro Series West Thunder Valley Casino Resort 200 that was held at the Toyota Speedway in Irwindale, CA follows at 6:00pm. Friday's viewing gets the green at 2:00pm with the July 16 ARCA Racing Series Prairie Meadows 200that was run at the Iowa Speedway in Newton, IA. Speed goes live at 5:00pm with Truck Series qualifying from Nashville, TN. Speed Center on Speed goes at 7:00pm followed by the pre-race show at 7:30 that will lead in to the 8:00pm start of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Lucas Deep Clean 200 at the Nashville Superspeedway. Saturday's race viewing starts at 3:00pm with the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series from the East Bay Raceway in Gibsonton, FL. At 3:30pm espn2 goe live with Nationwide Series qualifying from Nashville. At 7:00pm the action shifts to ESPN for the pre-race show that will lead in to the 7:30pm start of the NASCAR Nationwide Series Federated Auto Parts 300 at the Nashville Superspeedway. With the NASCAR Sprint Cup cars off for the weekend other racing takes center stage on Sunday. At 1:00pm Speed provides live coverage of the Grand-Am Rolex Series, American Red Cross 250 at the New Jersey Motorsports Park in Millville, NJ. At 2:00pm Versus provides live coverage of the IZOD IndyCar Series Edmonton Indy at the Edmonton City Centre Airport in Edmonton, Alberta Canada. On Sunday evening, Speed Center at 7:00pm and NASCAR Victory Lane at 8:00pm sum up the day's racing. At 9:00pm Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain closes out the weekend.

On the Speedway Stock Market scene last week all three speedway stocks had negative results for the week. Taking the big hit was the International Speedway Corporation which dropped 1.04 to 29.45. Speedway Motorsports dropped 0.41 to 14.02 and Dover Motorsports dropped 0.02 to 1.81. NASCAR Cup sponsor Sprint dropped 0.14 to 5.35 while fuel supplier Sun Oil dropped 0.94 to 41.92. On a positive note tire supplier Goodyear went up 0.61 to 17.84. The car builders were also down for the week. Ford dropped 0.79 to 13.09 while General Motors dropped 1.82 to 29.76 and Toyota dropped 0.55 to 83.85. In the home improvement sector, Home Depot dropped 0.71 to 35.91 and Lowes dropped 0.75 to 22.86. The major team sponsors also had a down week. Dupont dropped 1.33 to 54.09 while Coca-Cola dropped 2.98 to 65.50 and Target dropped 0.05 to 51.09. Aarons Rentals dropped 1.60 to 27.56 and Fedex dropped 5.36 to 92.20.

That’s it for this week from 11 Gardner Drive, Westerly RI 02891. Ring my chimes at 401-596-5467. E-Mail is

Phil Smith has been a columnist for Speedway Scene and other publications for over 3 decades.

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